Friday, August 14, 2015

How to Rock Your School Fundraiser

Ever since my monkeys first entered their school years, I’ve always been involved with the school.  

This of course includes PTA/PTO or as it's known in Fiji, PTFA.  I was never too excited about being part of the parents association, as my mom was super involved in our school’s group (back in the 70’s) and it was some major drama!

I can honestly say that both parent-teacher groups that I’ve been involved with have been fun, easy-going, and I’ve made some of my closest friends within these groups (when you’re a constantly-moving military family, this is a sweet deal!). 

This month's PTFA Social Hour.  
I highly recommend this.

So at our current school, there is no year-round fundraising.   


This essentially means:
-no catalogs full of garbage to pander out to friends, neighbors and family.
-no silly selling contests complete with ridiculous cheap/garbage prizes for students.
-no writing a check to a company that will only be giving your school 40% of the proceeds, while you are stuck with 100% of those products that you never wanted in the first place.
-it’s Bliss!

I guarantee there is no true "value" in this book.

So now you ask, “but, how does your school raise money?”.

Answer:  The Old Fashion Way.  When I was a kid, those fundraising companies didn’t exist.  We had the annual Pie & Cake sale (aka, a school bazaar!).

Our school does a one-day, ONCE-a-year “Fun Day”.

It’s a full-on school bazaar, hosted by students, teachers and parents.  And guess what?
It’s actually FUN!

Our Fun Day consists of the following:  Family Activities, Gift Basket Raffle, Food Stalls, the SecondHand Store & Used Book Store, Live Music/Entertainment and Corporate Sponsors.

Gift Baskets:  Each grade level chooses a theme basket (Wine & Cheese Basket, Out to the Movies basket, etc), and contributes to building one massive basket for a raffle drawing.  In the end you have 12 amazing gift baskets that are raffled off (last year we did a silent auction – choose which one you prefer). 

Some of the massive gift baskets.

Family Activities:  Each grade level hosts some sort of activity.  The grade 6 students always host a haunted house, another grade always hosts a disco room, some grade levels host face painting, there’s the ever-popular dunk-the-teacher, you get the picture.  In the end you have a dozen really great activities that cost @ $2 for families to participate in on Fun Day. 

One class always hosts "The Jail" where you can 
pay to lock your friends (& teachers!) up.  Brilliant. 

this photo is here because of the sheer-sweetness.  Oh my.

The SecondHand Store & Used Book Stall are pure profit as families get to essentially clean out their closets and donate it all to the school to sell at Fun Day.  Too easy, and you now have more closet space.  You're welcome.

Food Stalls:  our school is extremely international – we have students from over 40 different nations in attendance (maybe that’s why we’re the International School??).   So, the food stall area consists of a great variety of international foods.  Parents, families and co-workers from different nationalities come together to work on their stall’s menu for that year.  

My favorites are always the Aussie/Kiwi beer garden (yes, we sell BEER at a school event – shocking!), the European Union CafĂ© (delicious pastries & coffee.  Yes, please), 

The lovely ladies of the Euro Cafe

and of course our stall – the American Food Stall.


 This year we sold smoked brisket (70lbs. in all!) with cornbread salad and home brewed beer. 
(did I mention that we sold out in 2.5 hrs?!)


Sorry, back to the point…Each food stall sells small portions of their international foods, so that people have tummy-room to try several different food stalls throughout the day. 

(And when your work shift at your stall is over, you go have a glass of wine or brew and go hang out with your friends.  Win-win.)

Live Entertainment & Music:  all of the entertainment is provided for Free.  The school doesn’t pay anyone to perform and it’s free for anyone stopping by Fun Day (there’s also no entrance fee for Fun Day!).  

You’ll have a Tae Kwon Do school come and perform, a few local musicians, groups of students who have put together their own dance routines or bands. 

Students from the Oceania Dance School

Corporate Sponsors:  Fiji is sooooooooo not a corporate kindof place, but we do find a few businesses here who help us put Fun Day together, via their donations.  A few companies donated in-kind gifts like bottles of water & soda for us to sell, while others contributed some funds.  

Their pay-back in this is that their logo is plastered all over our Fun Day advertising and event day brochures.  They like that.

So, how well does Fun Day pay off?  

I think that last year’s total was $35,000 (pure profit) and they are still calculating this year’s totals (the 2015 Fun Day was last weekend).  

Did I mention that this year's Fun Day was 0% Sunshine and 100% rain?
(some of y'all need to stop praying for rain!  It's all coming to Fiji!)

Here’s the breakdown of what a community school bazaar accomplishes:
-you don’t dread the next barrage of school fliers, promoting yet-another dadgum ridiculous fundraiser.
-you’re not constantly getting robbed from some random catalog company.
-your family will have a spectacular day, hanging out with friends, teachers, and family.
-a school bazaar promotes COMMUNITY.  (community?  what's that??)
-  @ $35K in ONE day, and every penny will go to Your School. (a few years ago, they made $55k on Fun Day.  Either way – it’s good!)

Yes, a school-wide bazaar is work, but it is sooooooo worth it!
And here’s a little side note…we accomplish our annual school bazaar without the help of a Target, Walmart, Hobby Lobby, Home Depot, or any of those spectacular stores that don’t exist here in Fiji.  In other words, if we can do it, you can do it!

So as many of you are venturing into another school year, take a new look at the old way of supporting your local schools.

oh and, Have Fun!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Fashion In Paradise

I’m finding that working all week in a structured environment (an embassy is pretty freakin’ structured) is making me crave my old life of creating, dreaming, thrifting, and yes, Blogging! 

So recently, my creating & dreaming fancies were fulfilled via the South Pacific’s annual (and one-and-only) Fiji Fashion Week.

I believe this was the 8th anniversary of Fiji Fashion Week.  
It’s a week where our tiny little Suva gets turned upside down, as there is a frenzy to find your best dress, grab your best buds, and spend every night sitting along the sides of a fashion-filled runway.

It’s a tough assignment, but I’ll take it!

Last year was my first FFW experience, and I didn’t expect much going into it.  I was so blown away at what an amazing event it actually is.  Truly beautiful fashion, professional designers 
and healthy, glowing models (yes, they do exist!).

The big kick-off was the annual charity luncheon. This year’s theme was the groovy 70’s.

We even made it into the local paper.  Woohoo!
And then it was show time. 
Here are a few of my favorites! (all logo photos are via local photographer, FotoFusion)

by Rako Designs

by Fiji Tall

by FNU design students!

by Pacific Island Arts

by Robert Kennedy

by Jennifer Jenkinson

by Rako Designs

by Moira Solvalu John

KuiViti by Epeli Tuibeqa

One of the most unique features of the week is the children’s show.  

This isn’t just a show where they feature adorable clothing for children, it’s a show where they also feature young designers.

This pair of best buds designed together for this year's show - they are 9 years old!

My daughter’s classmate, Jade (age 10),  has been a featured designer for FFW for a few years now. This year Jade presented another fun & funky line.

Her models are always her classmates, which makes it all the more fun. 

Here they are!

and here is my wee one..
 her dress was made of chicken wire & fabric scraps!

and the lovely designer herself, Ms. Jade

Last but not least, here are some after party pics!

(switching to Fiji water after lots of Bubbles!)

So that's my recap of this year's Fiji Fashion Week.
Here's hoping that my work schedule and life lend a little more time to more frequent blogging!

Cheers from little ol' Fiji!

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